Two years ago, I joined the PEPS Board of Directors. I had participated in a PEPS group in 2009 when my son was born, facilitated a newborn group after that, became a donor, and had helped out with some strategic planning as an outside advisor. But, I had not felt compelled to join the board and support the organization in that capacity. Until…I met Laurie Alexander! I met Laurie in the fall of 2015. She was finishing her second year on the board and was preparing to take on the role of board president for the coming year.
So, what was it about Laurie that inspired me to join the board? First and foremost, her deep belief in the importance of parent support and early childhood development and fierce commitment to expanding the impact PEPS to serve all families in our region are palpable and contagious. It is inspiring and energizing to work with someone who is so passionate about the work and vision. Since the time I first met Laurie, she has demonstrated her unfailing commitment to PEPS over and over again. She not only extended her board term for an extra year, she volunteered to serve as board president for two consecutive years to provide stability and continuity for the organization and support for the Executive Director, Jessica Lawmaster, who was hired during her term.
“Laurie has steadfastly guided PEPS through transition and growth, into a state of strengthened capacity and refined focus. She has led by example every step of the way.” –Jessica Lawmaster, Executive Director
Secondly, Laurie exudes organization and strategic thinking, which meant to me that I would be joining a well-functioning board. And how true that is! Laurie has the ability to both keep an eye on the big picture while strategically managing the details. She has helped build a dynamic board with a robust committee structure and an intentional vision for further board development; she has put policies and procedures in place that provide a professional and stable foundation for the board’s governance work; and she has established a precedent for steadfast support of and open, trusting and consistent communication with the Executive Director. All of the structure Laurie has put into place makes for engaged, meaningful board service for each member.
Lastly, I was drawn to how observant and supportive Laurie is. She has a keen sense about people – what they need and what they have to offer – and how best to set them up to be successful. She goes out of her way to check-in with each board member and to make herself available. She has established a feeling and culture on the board that each member is valuable and appreciated, which, in turn, motivates each member to show up and participate fully.
Laurie’s legacy stretches far beyond the impact she has had on me. When I spoke with Colleen Montoya Barbano, a former PEPS board president, she shared this about Laurie, “I’m deeply grateful to Laurie for her leadership over a dynamic chapter for the PEPS organization. Both as a board member and as board president, Laurie brought vision and the ability to thoughtfully execute that vision. She has been instrumental in stewarding PEPS through an exciting period of growth and in broadening its impact. Her presence on the board will be missed, but I’m confident that Laurie will continue to be a great champion for PEPS and for parents and families throughout the Puget Sound region!”
While Laurie’s board service comes to an end this December, and as I prepare to take on the role of board president, I have two primary thoughts: One, I am filled with deep gratitude for all that Laurie has done in support of PEPS. Jessica Lawmaster, PEPS Executive Director, summed this up so beautifully: “Laurie has steadfastly guided PEPS through transition and growth, into a state of strengthened capacity and refined focus. She has led by example every step of the way.”
Second, Laurie has left some big board president shoes to fill! But, thanks to her unfailing support of me, I’m ready to take on this role. Serving on the PEPS board is an honor; it is some of my most meaningful work. I am so very grateful to Laurie for her inspiration and for being the catalyst that drew me to this work. Thank you!
Mary Ellen Cunningham
Incoming PEPS Board President